5 Jazz Teams To Watch At NDA Collegiate Nationals 2016

2016-3-20 NDA OPEN TEAMS GRAPHIC

Following up some crazy traffic on my 5 Teams Performance Teams to Watch at NDA Collegiate Nationals 2016 post with one about the jazz division (formerly open division).

I feel like it’s kind of redundant to chat about how much I love NDA collegiate nationals in this post, too, especially because I really want you to click on that little link above where I already talk about it once.

Instead, I’ll just say this – it’s nearly impossible to decide the jazz teams I’m most excited to see. There is seriously so much talent at NDA, and a treat in every single division. I think it’s really important for you all to know how damn hard it is to narrow this all down, but here’s my best shot:

Stephen F. Austin State University

These stunnas were in Challenge Cup last year and I remember being just so confused. They were flawless; what were they doing in Challenge Cup? Then I quickly realized they got a safety deduction (I’m guessing because they held flowers in their hands during a team side aerial? Someone can fill me in on that), which made perfect sense because, like I said, they did a damn team side aerial.

Anyways, they ended up in third against two very, very, very talented teams. Even though I think SFADT definitely deserved their third place finish, no routine made me cry like theirs, and moving an audience is the real win here. Huge tip of the hat to them.

West Virginia University

I feel like WVU is kind of the soul sister to Assumption because they, too, have had some struggles at NDA. Of course they totally ran the show in 2010 and 2011 when they brought home titles, and even killed it in 2012 and 2013. But they did go through some coaching changeovers that were tough (just like Assumption), and didn’t have the most spectacular finish in 2014 (and Assumption didn’t even get to go that year). I’m probably just drawing the parallels because I really wish I was a WVU dancer.

But anyways, in 2015? Shit. That routine was beautiful. I hope they pull something even better off this year because to me, WVU will always be that 2011 team that killed me when they put that damn scarf in their mouths.

Grand Valley State University

Competing against the best is fun, which is one of the main reasons why I love Grand Valley. With Assumption, I’ve had the honor of going toe-to-toe with this team (and let’s be real, it was only a real competition back in 2013 when Assumption was still am actual NDA force) and seeing what they can deliver has always been humbling.

I’m going to be 100 percent honest, I think I wanted Grand Valley to get its win last year on principle alone, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t completely deserve it. Their routine was stunning. They are hard workers. They are humble. I hope they keep all of that up this year to deliver another amazing and honorable performance next week.

James Madison University & Utah Valley University

I remember sitting in the Ocean Center during finals last year and pretty much everyone on Assumption was like, “yup, it really doesn’t matter whether JMU or Utah Valley wins. They were both flawless.” Because I was totally torn on which I thought should win more last year, I’m still torn about who I’m more excited to see this year (remember up top where I said narrowing this down to five teams is hard?)

Brigham Young University

Because duuuuuuuuuuh. It’s probably so dance team basic of me to fawn over BYU so much, but I feel like if you’re not obsessed with them you’re just being bitter or denying a killer team of the respect they deserve.

If I’m going to boil down the thing I’m most excited for, though, it’s that damn team side aerial. A few years ago this team blew our minds apart by throwing a casual one in there. Then a bunch of other teams started doing it like, oh, like it’s hard or something? So BYU responded by doing the most beautiful aerial sequence in cannon, showing off skill and artistry all at the same time. What are they going to do this year to up the ante? I know I’m chomping at the bit to see.

A little PS note: Thanks so much for the support everyone’s shown this ‘lil blog the past few days. Every view, like, comment, share, and tweet has made my jaw hit the ground. Nothing makes you feel luckier than seeing things unfold doing the very thing you love. I hope you all have as much fun with this as I do, because seriously, these dance team national lists are my favorite blog posts all year.

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5 Team Performances To Watch At NDA Collegiate Nationals 2016

2016-3-20 NDA TEAM TEAMS PREDICTIONS

This year, the NDA Collegiate National Championships in Daytona are super bittersweet, because for the first time in a long time I’m not going to be taking the floor in the Ocean Center dancing my heart out for a national championship.

But! At least I’ve already got my Varsity TV subscription set up for the live stream and I have the time to make a top teams to watch list. You win some, you lose some?

I’m going to be counting down teams I’m excited to see between Team Dance and Open Dance because it would simply be impossible to narrow it down to five between the two divisions. Who knows? Maybe I’ll throw a hip hop in there, too.

Here are my top Team Dance teams:

  1. University of Louisville/Penn State Lionettes

This anticipation is pretty similar to how I was feeling during 2016 UDA Collegiate Nationals when Minnesota was taking on Tennessee after last year’s upset. I’ve been a pretty diehard Louisville fan for a while (note my unbelievable reverence for Coach Todd Sharp), but for a while Penn State has been taking the title (until they didn’t last year). Penn State’s social media activity has shown that they are really out for blood this year and I don’t really blame them considering both Louisville and a super random team beat them last year. So this should be interesting.

  1. Iowa State University

Remember that super random team I mentioned who beat Penn State? This is them. I really hope that they bring it again this year. I was at the Band Shell the morning of IA finals and there was nothing like seeing their faces when they came in second, seeing them really surprise themselves and feel proud of what they managed to do through humble hard work. It was really pretty beautiful.

  1. Ramapo College

This is where my bias comes in. Assumption and Ramapo have a decent history of strongly supporting each other, and I have to give these ladies a shoutout. That said, they totally deserve this. Ramapo was back to back champs in 2012 and 2013, and came in second last year in DIII Team Performance. Practicing with them is like being on another planet… They have the most unreal energy, are constantly talking to each other throughout the routine, and push each other more than you could ever know. Having the chance to practice with them was so inspiring and it showed me and my team how much harder we could we working. Naturally, I’m rooting for them to bring out the big W this year.

  1. Towson University

I’d be pretty remiss if I didn’t mention Towson. In the entire dance team community, nobody defines dynasty the way Towson does. I think they’re like, ten? (eleven? twelve?) time national champions. They have one year where they aren’t Team Performance champs and that’s the year they decided to shake things up in Open Performance and win that instead. While I sometimes think another team could topple Towson, hearing from team alumni about how difficult it is to be on that team, I can’t do anything but respect them and get amped to see what they bring out every year.

  1. Boston University

Sucks to B U! Just kidding. More like want to B U. These ladies are fierce. Remember what I said about Ramapo? Same kind of goes for them. Last year I feel like they really concentrated hard on their hip hop (and it paid off), but they still somehow whipped out a fourth place finish for Team Performance, too. It is unreal how excited I am to see in which areas they’ve improved for this year.

Why My Daughter’s Nursery Will Be Pink

girl-toy-pinkWhen I defended my senior honors thesis about Disney, it inevitably resulted in a conversation amongst the faculty in attendance about what Disney material is and is not appropriate for children. Something that kept on popping up was whether or not little girls should be watching princess movies. It’s a really tough call, you know? On the one hand, you really don’t want your kid thinking that her value depends on long, luscious locks and big doe eyes, but it’s really hard to uphold that decision when she’s surrounded by these images all over the place.

And then one of my professors said something that completely changed my view on parenting: “I let my daughter watch it, but with trepidation,” she said. “I’m just more scared nowadays of her growing up thinking that things typically categorized as ‘feminine’ are bad.”

So now I’ve decided that when I have a daughter, her nursery will be pink.

It has nothing to do with me wanting her to wear ribbons and ruffles and all kinds of frills, nor do I want her constantly worrying about what’s staring back at her in the mirror. It’s just that fundamentally, from a young age, I want her to know that in a world that sometimes isn’t so fair to women, it’s still okay and cool and awesome to be one.

But that doesn’t mean I won’t let her play with trucks, or wear blue, or play in the dirt. The minute she tells me she doesn’t like pink, or that she wants a Thomas the Tank Engine, or anything more traditionally associated with little boys, it’s all hers. It’s not like I’ll have a problem with my little girl playing with toys other than princesses and tea sets, it’s just that I want her to know that those things aren’t bad either. Above all, I want her to feel empowered to make a choice about who or what she plays with, and I want her to respect other girls’ empowerment, too. I want her to know that for every little girl who wants to make model rocket ships, there’s another little girl who genuinely wants to play with baby dolls, and both are equally rad.

Because for me, that’s the biggest part of this feminism thing. Beyond men and women being seen as equals in all aspects of life and society, I value being empowered to make my own choices. Like when feminists scoff at my waist-length hair that’s almost always done, or my shaved armpits, or my pink painted finger nails — how dare they. How can they call themselves feminists while simultaneously tearing down me, a fellow woman? Aren’t we all supposed to support each other, regardless of our choices to look more traditionally ‘feminine’ or more gender neutral?

I guess that’s how I want to raise my daughter. To be ready to accept anyone – no matter of the choices they make – and to be ready to accept herself as well.

Dance Made Me Hate My Body (& Made Me Love it, Too)

I wonder if other girls remember the day they got fat, because yes, in a time where body image is so heavily influenced by the media, it is something that happens overnight; one minute you’re a happy little girl, and the next you’re one who only sits a certain way because she’s afraid her stomach will roll over her pants.

Sixth grade, the year I got fat, in an international award-winning tap routine.
Sixth grade, the year I got fat, in an international award-winning tap routine.

I remember the day that I got fat. I was in sixth grade, and all of the little girls in my dance class were in one of two jazz small groups. When my group, “Havana Nights,” was in our lesson, the other would sit in the waiting room, snacking and chatting and having fun; except one day, the they decided it’d be more fun to talk smack about their classmates who were in rehearsal, and I was one of their targets.

The rest is pretty easy to piece together—people gossip, and it got back to me exactly who slammed me for being too fat for their dance class (side note: that bitch eventually got hers; one year her high school’s senior prank was putting goose shit in underclassmen lockers, and guess who’s locker got hit?). From there on out, getting ready for dance meant a set of sit ups before leaving the house, strategically placing the elastic band of my tights so nobody saw where it pressed into my belly and not drinking anything for a few hours beforehand so I wouldn’t bloat. In hindsight my dance prep was super exhausting.

The body hate kept on going into high school. I never suffered with anorexia or bulimia like some dancers do, but that didn’t keep me from envying the girls who seemed to never hit puberty, or who didn’t need to wear a sports bra so the strappy backs of their leotards weren’t obstructed, or who didn’t need to pay as much for costumes because they managed to squeeze into child larges. I hate that so many of my memories dancing were plagued with worrying how my stomach looked doing the dance moves.

17 years old, award-winning soloist, but still not feeling okay dancing inside of myself.
17 years old, award-winning soloist, but still not feeling okay dancing inside of myself.

There’s something romantic in knowing all of my body positivity came from my first and truest love—dance. It’s especially pleasing because for so many girls (me included at certain points of my life), dance has been the very thing that makes us hate our bodies. As a dancer and a woman, I am not unique in struggling with body image.

It has always been hard to be a dancer (or woman, for that matter) who loves their body—I will never forget being a child watching Center Stage and seeing Maureen, a beautiful ballerina, make herself throw-up because she didn’t like what she saw. I don’t really remember what I did with that image. I remember being really affected by it, like hey I feel you there, sister, but it’s upsetting that I wasn’t more affected—a dancer hating their body just seemed so normal, so ordinary, so run of the mill. And now, in a world of Dance Moms drama and InstaFamous dancers with flawless silhouettes, we don’t even need eating disorder storylines to feel like shit about ourselves—the standard for dancer perfection is everywhere.

I hope every day that everyone gets to have the kind of revelation I had in college. I spent most of the college search process looking for a school that had a smaller student population but still managed to have a nationally competitive dance team. I am so unbelievably lucky that I found Assumption College when I did, when its team was at its peak and when I was going to learn some of the most important lessons of my dance career.

After a second place finish at NDA Nationals, loving life and loving my curves.
After a second place finish at NDA Nationals, loving life and loving my curves.

Like I said, my team was pretty competitive on the national scene. We might not be dance team ‘famous’ the way some huge schools are, but we’ve brought home some pretty high national rankings. Somewhere in the hustle and bustle of dance teaming, all of my body shaming bullshit fell by the wayside. Maybe it was because practice was so hard that I literally didn’t have time to think about what I looked like in the mirror, or maybe it was being surrounded by such beautiful, talented, badass girls whose bodies looked a lot like mine. Maybe it was that I was put in a way more mature dance environment, and I started to see that I couldn’t possibly hate my body, the very thing that made it possible for me to turn for days and days or spin with my leg pulled up by my face (or, you know, bring home a second place trophy from nationals). I’m not really sure; I think it’s a combination of all three of those things. I realized that thick, muscular thighs helped my jumps have power, and a solid tummy held my core in place. My body was pretty freaking beautiful because it let me do some pretty freaking beautiful things on the dance floor.

I’ve always hated that I started feeling fat because of something that someone else said; it made me feel embarrassed. But now I realize that’s how it goes for everyone—we don’t start hating our bodies because we have some intrinsic damage that forces us to not like ourselves. We start hating our bodies because society tells us to, whether those messages come from a magazine, or a TV show or the models in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. But now it doesn’t really matter that I let someone else’s opinion of me dictate my own. What’s important is that my love for myself came from dance, something that lives deep inside of me. I guess that’s all any of us can hope for.

Sara Says: The Final Column

When I began this column back in September, I told you all this: I know that who I am is all that I have. That was all I seemed to know at the time that I started editing with the Provoc, and it was the main thing I had learned in college. But now, seven months later, I seem to know a little bit more—that words have a fickle way of sticking out of everything, of not wanting to bend to the circumstances you have, that sometimes they’re going to fail you, and others they’re going to run like a leaky faucet onto a page and you won’t be able to stop them.

I’ve come to know now, with all of the bravado and certainty in the world, that I was right when I started this whole thing. Who I am is all that I have, and all that I have and all that I am are words.

Words seem to have traced my entire trajectory throughout college. I’m a history major and (officially declared!) English minor, so pretty regularly I’ve found myself hunched in front of a computer pounding away at a keyboard. I have searched for them, and found them, when I’ve had a hot date with Microsoft Word and a Her Campus article or blog post or Provoc article. I have spent hours on end with the dance team when words have left me to go see something else. Words have been why I can fall asleep at night, and why I’m able to hold the folks around me with tight little hands.

And I blame you, Assumption College, for all of this. I blame the many people who have touched me, with positive rays of sunshine or with heartbreaking sadness. I blame the girls who have lived by my side for this little journey, the teams who have made my hands feel light and full, the lectures that have taken me to fantasy lands where I, from the comfort of a desk, have had the ability to see everything.

Shout out to the Provoc staff for being magical word fairies, for making me feel hilarious and for teaching me how to step into the large, large shoes that leaders often wear. My love for you is infinite, and if you need to hear about it again, check out issue seven.

Shout out to the dance team for being there when words weren’t. Thank you for teaching me how to dance and walk like a champion, how to ‘put my loser up’ in all sense of the words and for Sobfest 2015.

Shout out to 5J for being the most hilarious and unique women in my life. Thank you for the Wall of Shame, for the denim stains our dancing has left on walls and for the toxic group message that plagues my iPhone. Please stay weird. Always.

And shout out to my professors, for giving me books to read, and a whole world to explore. Special shout outs to Professor Wheatland, who gave me the worst grade I’ve gotten in 117, and for pulling out the best paper I’ve ever written in senior seminar; Dr. Kisatsky for letting me write an honors thesis about Disney, and for making sure it came out okay; Professor Land for reminding me that journalism, and writing in general, is all about talking to and learning from people you would never have gotten the chance to meet; and to Professor Hodgen. Thanks for telling me to “ruin my life” and become a writer; you—and writing—have saved me in more ways than you could know.

Thanks to the Andover High friends who never let me stop calling them home. You all are everything to me.

Thanks to Douglas, Colleen and Eric for being my first friends ever, for keeping me irrationally attached to Massachusetts, for teaching me to laugh deep in my gut and for teaching me that the earth is the greatest thing that we have and we should go out there and enjoy it. Thanks to Mom and Dad for making bill payments, high grades, extracurriculars and big dreams all possible.

Forever and ever I will always say that humility and gratitude will be the most important and most attractive qualities someone can have, so I try to pull them into my heart every morning and every night. Thank you Provoc, Assumption and everyone who has filled this space with love for always keeping me humble, and always keeping me grateful.

Wrangling the fear of graduation (there will be other joys, too.)

For the past day or so, I’ve been trying to scrounge together the words to part ways with my college dance team. In a way, saying bye to them and all of the experiences I’ve had with them is like saying bye to the entire college package; they were my first friends, and are certainly the best ones I’ve found in these wild, wild four years.

This past week we competed at NDA Collegiate Nationals in Daytona Beach, Florida, and despite the handful of practices we’re still going to run in these last fleeting weeks until I graduate, I can’t help but feel an aching sadness that things are coming to an end; things aren’t really going to be the same anymore.

But then today, when I returned to classes missed for my attendance at the competition, a feeling of closure fell over me like a cloud of grace.

My poetry professor, bless him, asked me how things went down at the competition. I smiled and thanked him for asking and told him that we ended in the middle of the pack; not our best showing at nationals, for damn sure, but still an experience that fills our hearts with gratitude. He smiled back.

“It must be so sad,” he said to me. “I know how much joy being on that team brings to you.”

I remembered my first class with him, back when I was small and a second-year student, when I handed in my first assignment about a specific day in my life. I chose to write about the breathless moments on stage with the dance team a few months prior, when we danced like champions and came home like some, too.

He really did know how much joy it brought me.

But there are going to be other joys, too,” he finished.

And suddenly I pieced things together; with humble and thankful fingers, I found not just the words about saying goodbye to my team, my first college friends, but words about saying goodbye to the last four years. To my identity as a student. To whatever river I’ve been coasting down for my whole life.

It’s frighteningly easy to fall into the fear of the future. I don’t have a job. I’m going to be living in my parent’s house (even though that’s a totally okay thing to do!). I don’t have any clue what I’m capable of, and I’m petrified that it’s nothing. I look at these joys that my time in college has brought me, and I want to white-knuckle cling to them.

But there will be other joys, too, and I want to do the challenging thing and face them with excitement and fearlessness.

I might be jobless right now, but there will be the joy of finding something to do and finding a spot in this busy, busy universe. I might be leaving the dimpling laughter of college friendships, but there will be joys of new friends and new relationships that will keep my hands light and full and good. There will be joys of knowing that the earth is spinning beneath my feet right now, and that if I keep sending love out there, it’s going to come back to me.

I can’t keep my feet planted in this place for too long. I’ve sucked it dry of all the nutrients, all of the love and peace, joy and lust for life that it’s given me, and I’m going to starve if I keep trying to feed myself here. I need to trust that every warm and loving vibe that I throw out into this world is going to come back to me some day. And I think now I’m starting to trust that there are going to be joys, bigger and smaller, coming my way; there will be other joys, too.

First Ladies, feminism and the freedom of choice.

As we New Englanders were in the midst of Snowpocolypse 2015, First Lady Michelle Obama accompanied her husband, President Barack Obama, to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to meet the U.S. ally’s new king, Salman bin Abdulaziz.

And may I just say the First Lady looked stunning? She rocked a royal blue tunic top with a robe-style sweater over it, and classy black pants. Gorgeous as ever, Michelle.

A lot of other people are pretty concerned with her attire to meet King Abdulaziz, too, including Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who, according to multiple media outlets, Facebooked out “kudos” to Mrs. Obama for “standing up for women” by “refusing to wear Sharia-mandated head-scarf.”

While it’s a lovely change of pace to see a staunchly conservative senator give praise to any member of the Obama family, I still find it a little unsettling that Senator Cruz thinks that First Lady Obama’s choice not to wear a hijab is some groundbreaking move in the feminist agenda. Because it’s not.

There are a lot of negative connotations that Americans associate with head scarves. I totally get it—believe me; I wrote my honors thesis on cultural and historical approaches to media representations of Middle Easterners. We’ve been taught, mostly through movies but also through news coverage, that the reason why Middle Eastern women don head scarves is because they are simple cogs in some female-repressive culture. There are several reasons why our media represents the Middle East this way, but the main thing to take away is that these representations are often misguided.

Don’t get me wrong—there are a lot of repressive aspects of Middle Eastern culture (the stoning of female adulterers, anyone?), but I’d argue that, in this day and age and in a country like Saudi Arabia, the hijab is not one of them.

Many women of modern Islamic culture argue that wearing their hijab is, in fact, very empowering for them. I could cite so many articles about this, but I’ll point you in the direction of a recently-published Buzzfeed video entitled “Women Wear Hijabs for a Day.

In essence, these women all say that wearing a hijab makes them feel valued for who they are, the ideas and thoughts and feelings whizzing in their brains, instead of what they look like. They said that there was something really cool about that, and a lot of modern Islamic women say the same thing.

So there’s a reason why I’m miffed that people are calling First Lady Obama’s actions feminist.

But I’m not mad that she didn’t wear one, either.

We have this concept in America that’s really cool, and it’s called our freedom of choice. We can pick to eat hamburgers for dinner and pick if we’re going to actually do our homework tonight. We have so many choices that sometimes it can be kind of overwhelming, but still, we revel in that right.

So when she met the new Saudi Arabian king, First Lady Obama exercised her right to choose, and she chose not to wear a hijab to meet King Abdulaziz. I’m not living inside of her head or anything, but if I had to guess why she made that choice, it might be because she’s not a Saudi woman and she’s not a Muslim and she doesn’t wear a head scarf normally so why wear one that day? If I had to guess, she was just making a diplomatic visit; she wasn’t trying to take the world by feminist storm. She was just making a choice.

Just like many Muslim women.

They’re just making choices.

And they’re choosing to wear a hijab.

And to every self-important quasi-feminist who says it’s unfeminist to wear a head scarf, who says it’s unfeminist to participate in an ‘archaic’ and ‘repressive’ culture, I choose to say this:

Take a look in the mirror.

You’re telling a woman what to wear and what to think of it.

How are you supporting feminism?

An Introduction: Sara Says

It’s funny: if you’re someone who hasn’t spent a lot of time with me, you probably wouldn’t think that I’m the type of person who likes to talk a lot. You probably think I’m quiet or shy or one of those people who just isn’t really that opinionated.

The funny part of all of that is that I am and am not those things all at the same time. I really can be kind of shy, and the proof is in my shaking hands when I have to give a presentation or when I’m in a room with a bunch of people that I don’t know.

But I can also be pretty loud (and not just when I’m watching TV with my roommates). I can be opinionated and snarky and obsessively nerdy, someone who literally will not stop talking about history or bears or the queso from Moe’s. And sure, my roommates get a healthy dose of this every day, but mostly it goes into Word documents or random notes on my iPhone. So I am loud, but only on paper.

So now, as I’m on the brink of leaving college and heading into the real world of Internet journalism and social media, I’m practicing putting that stuff in my head here, on this literal newspaper page, and honestly I’m pretty scared about that.

I’m scared that all these years, my professors have been lying to me about being a good writer, scared that one issue I’ll have nothing to write about and scared that someday I’ll have something really cool to write about but everyone else mostly thinks it’s dumb. I’m scared that after all of this practice refining my writing skills, I’m going to graduate from this college and every magazine or website will still think I’m dumb and I’m going to spend the rest of my life writing manuals or something like that.

So I think this week I’m just going to introduce myself to you because I hope that if we become friends (either literally or simply through this page), maybe I won’t be so scared of writing the wrong thing. I introduce myself because I know that I am all that I have.

So hi. I’m Sara. I’m a senior here at Assumption, history major, English minor, Valley resident, dance team captain and (duh) an editor for the Provoc. I’m obsessed with teddy bears, Beauty and the Beast, the color yellow, those chocolate-covered fruit things that you can buy at Target and The Daily Show (in case you were wondering, Jon Stewart was my first celebrity crush). My favorite band is Vampire Weekend, my favorite part of history is anything related to World War II and my favorite part of the Winter Olympics is the ladies’ super-combined in alpine skiing.

But my most important favorite thing is writing, something that I think stemmed from my love for reading. You see, I love to read because without fail there’s always at least one line that I feel like the author took from inside of my soul. My words and my feelings came out of his pen. I want to be a writer because I want to do that to other people. I want to remind them that we’re all connected by pretty much the same exact set of emotions, that when they feel overwhelmed I might be feeling overwhelmed too. I want to be a writer because I want to remind people that there’s a beautiful uniformity and predictability about the human race.

So I guess I’ll leave you all with my hopes for this column this year. It isn’t really anything special—just things that I have to say, hence the title. But I still think it has the ability to do something.

I hope it can teach me how to write with the same kind of bravado and strength and confidence with which I can do other things. Conversely, I hope that it teaches me how to tear my personality off of the page and show it to other people.

And I hope that someday when you’re reading this column, you feel the unexplainable joy and magic and comfort of having someone take the words that they wrote out of your soul. I hope I can remind you of that uniformity and predictability of the human race and I hope that you find it beautiful, too.

Also featured on leprovoc.com

Can we start talking about more than Barbie’s physique?

It’s almost been one week since Entrepreneur Barbie created a sh*t storm all over the internet; in honor of that, I’m going to share my own super unqualified and perhaps not very relevant opinions on the doll.Image

A lot of people seem pretty thrilled that Mattel has produced a doll that embodies someone so inspirational to young girls—a woman who is her own startup and who lives life #unapologetically. We can’t exactly take this away from Mattel. If little girls are going to be playing with Barbies, why not make them ones who are successful, ones who, like Dr. Barbie and Teacher Barbie, show little girls that they can literally be anything they want to be?

Except for the fact that all of that’s crap. While it’s beating a dead horse to discuss how Barbie, anatomically, is super unhealthy for little girls to play with, I’ll tell you what isn’t: a discussion of what Barbie’s appearance says about success for women in America.

I believe America has yet to reach equal rights. I believe that being a young girl and dealing with mainstream media is hard. I believe it’s crap that we’ve yet to have a female president. But I reject the notion that America hates successful women. Yup, you heard me right; I do not believe that America hates successful women. I think the world is a pretty tough place for women, but I think a blanket statement that America doesn’t want to see a woman in power is absolutely absurd. As a nation we celebrate so many women for their success and those women serve as role models for younger generations. We’ve got Hillary Clinton, who, while not 100 percent beloved around America, certainly has her fans; we’ve got the Kardashians, and although I’m not sure how they’re successful, they seem to be doing pretty well; and we’ve got Michele Obama, who’s on Forbes’ list of the top 100 Most Powerful Women.

And what do all of these very different women have in common? They’re all hot. So if I don’t believe that America hates successful women, what do I believe? You guessed it—that America only likes successful women if they’re “attractive”.

This isn’t to say those women don’t deserve to be loved by the American public due to their success (except maybe the Kardashians), but it’s important to highlight (to women and little girls) that female success is only really celebrated when the female in question has it all. That’s to say, we only like the successful women who are also beautiful, who dress well, who are married and straight and who have a good, wholesome family. So where does that leave the successes who aren’t “hot” by society’s definition? Who aren’t married, who are gay, who don’t want to have kids? Where does it leave them?

Maybe they’re not waiting to be a success; maybe they’ve got equal pay and maybe they’ve got that CEO position that they rightfully earned and they’re already a success. But you know what? Despite their success, no one cares. And I still think that’s crap. Because you know what? Whether a woman is conventionally good-looking or not (I won’t even get started on how those conventions are defined by men), they should be celebrated as role models for little girls. We women need as many role models as we can get; God only knows men have plenty.

So how does Entrepreneur Barbie factor into all of this? She factors in the same way every other hot success does: little girls, by seeing good-looking, successful role models and by playing with toys like Entrepreneur Barbie, will start to believe that if you want to grow up to beImage successful, you better grow up to be hot. Put away the fact that I think there’s something beautiful about every woman; little girls need to start hearing that success comes from what’s inside of your head, not what’s on it.

We all know that Barbie’s body is unrealistic and that her physique serves as a major controversy. And while I agree that she’s not the healthiest of toys for little girls, I’ve always admired Barbie because of the many jobs she’s held. I’ve always liked that she’s told me that I can grow up to be whatever I wanted to be; I just hope someday she tells me that while I’m out there being I can look however I want to look, too.